I really should show you the roof,” said Alexa von Tobel, perched on a white bouclé chair in the gleaming Manhattan offices of her venture firm, Inspired Capital. “Let’s pop up there.”
We whisked out of the ninth-floor conference room, past a large portrait by Alex Katz, the Brooklyn-born artist currently receiving a Guggenheim Museum retrospective, to ascend to the top of 817 Broadway. The 125-year-old Beaux Arts tower just below Union Square has turned into an unexpected locus for New York City’s tech investors and founders, not to mention their spouses, siblings, college friends and interior designers.
“They did a beautiful job,” said von Tobel, exiting from an elevator onto a finished roof deck with tables and benches encircled by the space’s distinguishing feature: a crown of brick arches. “The views are insane. At night, the city is glowing. And when it’s not freezing, you can work from up here.” You can throw parties up here, too, as Inspired has done with fellow building tenant Union Square Ventures.
While big tech has claimed an ever-larger slice of the Big Apple over the last several years—Netflix has a new studio in Brooklyn, Meta Platforms has spread to the stately Farley Building near Penn Station and Google has expanded to fresh confines at Pier 57—the city’s venture capitalists have carved up a smaller footprint centered around a single area, roughly a mile south and a mile west of Union Square. And as VCs have sought square footage here, 817 Broadway has become a blinking-red beacon.